Dwight was convicted of one count of “maliciously damaging the real property of the United States by fire,” while Steven was convicted of two counts. The first fire occurred in 2001. According to prosecutors, several members of the Hammond family set this fire “less than three hours after Steven Hammond illegally shot several deer on BLM land,” a claim they corroborate by citing testimony from D.H.*, Dwight’s grandson and Steven’s nephew. The fire, moreover, “consumed 139 acres of public land and destroyed all evidence of the game violations.”
D.H. also testified that his uncle Steven gave him matches and told him to help start the fires. Some time thereafter, D.H. says that he was separated from the rest of his family and found himself surrounded by burning flames. To escape harm he sheltered in a creek.
Additionally, the government claims that three men were camped nearby when the Hammonds’ started these fires, and that Steven and Dwight knew about these campers when they decided to start the fires anyway. Thus the arson resulted in not only destruction of a federal wildlife sanctuary but also the criminals knowingly endangered human life.
Steven lit the second fire in 2006 — he says that he did so as a preemptive burn in order to prevent an unrelated wild fire from spreading to the Hammond Ranch. At the time, however, the federal Bureau of Land Management had imposed a “burn ban” to protect firefighters who were busying trying to stop the wild fire. A second fire, such as the one set by Steven, could have potentially spread and endangered the firefighters.
D.H. also testified that, after the first fire, “Dwight told me to keep my mouth shut, that nobody needed to know about the fire, and they didn’t need to know anything about it.” According to D.H., Steven, who was sitting next to Dwight at the time, added that his nephew should “keep [his] mouth shut.” D.H. said that he complied with these instructions because he was “afraid of Steven.”
D.H. appears to have had good reason to fear his family. In 2004, D.H. told a sheriff’s deputy about several times that he says he was abused. In one incident, Steven allegedly punched D.H. hard enough to knock him to the ground and “took [D.H.’s] face and rubbed it into the gravel.” In another incident, after D.H. was cited for being a minor in possession of alcohol, Steven allegedly punished D.H. by driving him ten miles from the family ranch and then making him walk home. In a third incident, after D.H. was cited as a minor in possession of tobacco, Steven allegedly “made him eat two (2) cans of Skoal Smokeless Tobacco and then again walk from Diamond, Oregon to the Hammond Ranch.”
A fourth incident is the most astounding. It is outrageous and certainly memorable. D.H., who reportedly has been diagnosed with depression, used a paper clip to carve the letter “J” into one side of his chest and the letter “S” onto the other side. In response, Steven allegedly “told him that he was not going to let [D.H.] deface the family by carving on himself.” D.H. said that Steven used sandpaper to remove the carved letters from D.H.’s chest — sanding each side for at least five minutes. Steven also allegedly told D.H. that “he would filet the initials off” his chest if the sandpaper did not work.
When law enforcement officers confronted the Hammond family with these allegations, Dwight admitted that he “had [D.H.] eat a full can of chewing tobacco” in what he says was an effort to “show [D.H.] that chewing tobacco was harmful to his body.” The Hammonds also admitted that the sanding incident occurred, although they would not disclose “who actually did the sanding.” Dwight, claims that the sanding occurred after he called a family meeting to discuss D.H.’s self-harm and that “when [D.H.] was not able to come up with a punishment, that it was decided by the family that the initials would be sanded off.” He added that “it was decided mutually and agreed upon by everyone including” D.H.
The sanding incident is corroborated by pictures of D.H.’s injures that were attached to the police report and included in record against Dwight and Steven Hammond at their trial for arson.
Trump’s use of the pardoning power of the President to pardon an admitted child abuser is outrageous and unforgivable.